Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creating motivation

Date: Nov. 24
Mileage: 25.1
Hours: 1:45
November mileage: 614.9
Temperature upon departure: 39
Rainfall: .19"

I've been feeling really strong lately, and I figure I should continue to chip away at base miles as long as the blurry line between buildup and overtraining hasn't been breached. I've decided that all of the training I do for the next four months is going to be entirely dedicated to three things: conditioning my body to stay hunched over (or beside) a bicycle for a long, long time; practicing different camping, repair and survival situations; and keeping my bad knee healthy. Speed won't serve me at all after several days on the trail, and I'm not even going to flirt with it. A rookie like me will benefit most from longevity, patience and confidence - as much as I can trick myself into mustering.

That said, there are definitely going to be numerous days, like today, where I am going to have a hard time dredging up motivation to ride. Surprisingly, the threat of a slow, cold, bonked-out death isn't really doing it for me. So some days I have to contrive little rewards. Today, my reward was "I'm going to listen to Korn."

Yeah. I know. Korn was one of the more self-indulgent bands I circulated on my sticky CD player in the 90s. I didn't pretend that they made good music, or that I even really liked them. But, just as a band can manufacture music, a band can apparently also manufacture anger. And when I needed a funnel for my flailing teenage angst, Korn was there for me.

The appeal of no-strings-attached anger could be why nu-metal didn't die the death it deserved in the late-90s, as was the fate of the Big Band revival and California ska. Korn persevered, and today I downloaded their latest (released in 2007?!) untitled album. I set out on my bike for a sluggish warm-up, as per usual, worked my way out to the solitude of North Douglas, and kicked on the iPod early, losing the raspy rhythm of my flem-coated breaths to a barrage of bad noise.

Irritability was instantaneous, they way it was the one time I saw Korn in concert, in an overcrowded hockey arena with hypnotic strobe lights the stench of sweat and stale water and my friend Adam in his black eyeliner trying to look his gothiest. That was the basic setting, but the only specific I can remember is that everything was so, so loud as I followed Adam through a violent sea of fists and flailing steel-toed boots and I was getting bruised, everywhere, but I didn't care. We were mad and we were going to get to the front and we were going to plow through the fortress of churning bodies if it killed us all.

Why seek out directionless anger? I didn't know then and I don't really know now. But here I was in the year 2007, a full-grown woman on a bicycle, with Korn pulsating through my little white earbuds. I felt my lips tighten, felt my eyes narrow, felt my legs pound into the pedals, felt the wind and rain tear at my face, felt my heart rate explode. And then I felt hate ... hate for the November rain, hate for the gravel-strewn road, hate for the puddles and the invisible craters, hate for the cars and the taxis and the gravel trucks coated in new snow, hate for my bicycle and its tires with the pressure too low and its stupid mud-streaked fenders and cheap headlight and odometer that ticks up in steady increments while I hate and hate and hate.

And just like that, I found myself transferring this rush of new energy to crazy speed that I rarely see. I ccould hear my raspy breaths again even over the battering noise; I was all but gasping for air. And I realized that I didn't actually feel hate. I felt great.

We all need to vent sometimes.


  1. Yes! Hate has been getting a bad rap for years. Hate is good. Hate works on the bike.

    Bad Religion taps me into my sel-righteous hate tanks of power.

  2. Even for long distance riding, some intensity is very helpful. You have to go pretty hard to raise your VO2 max and that will translate into more endurance. I did some pretty hard intervals when I was training for Race Across America. Of course nothing like I would have if I was training just for 2 or 3 hour races.

    Plus it will allow you to give a little burst without taxing your body so much. I'm thinking you might need that when you hit a soft spot in the snow and have to pull yourself and your bike out of the snow. Hopefully that won't happen but just in case you'll have a little upper end to do it.

  3. Yep. That's exactly the reason that Slipknot has such a big presence on my ipod. Sometimes that kind of emotion is exactly what you need to get up that hill or whatever.

  4. Here's another nod to Bad Religion ;)

  5. Darling. You just can't listen to Korn. It isn't right. It's not that it's just angry music: it is really bad angry music.

    I would strongly suggest you seek out some Mastodon instead. I am partial to Leviathon, which is a retelling of Moby Dick and just insanely great, but Blood Mountain is also pretty fine. Mastodon would probably sponsor you, come to think of it, if you asked them. They are that cool.


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